Comparing Troy and Bono in Fences, by August Wilson

Comparing Troy and Bono in Fences, by August Wilson

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The play “Fences”, written by August Wilson, shows a detailed interpretation about the life of a typical African-American family living in the twentieth century. Troy Maxson, the main character and the man of the house, a strict man with the family, hardworking, and at the same time a pleasure seeker. Jim Bono is Troy’s best friend from thirty odd years, a very friendly fellow who works with Troy and is really close to him. They both enjoy the company of each other every Friday on a bottle of an alcoholic beverage. Both characters are characterized based on being typical African American men living in the twentieth century. Even though Troy and Bono are very close friends, their actions and personalities sometimes conflict each other; this essay will focus on similarities and differences between the two characters to prove that even though they are close friends and acquire similarities, they still have different believes and behaviors.
Troy and Bono both acquire similar attributes throughout the play, the similarities they share introduce a small sense of equality in their characterization, however Bono is characterized as a lenient person and Troy as a furious person. Troy’s previous experiences made it hard for him to become a better person, Joseph H. Wessling states in his article “Wilson’s Fences” “What should a realist expect of Troy Maxson, who was abandoned by his mother at age eight, fled a brutal, lustful father at age fourteen, began to steal for a living, and served fifteen years on a murder charge? One can only hope for some measure of good, and Troy exceeds a realist's expectations. He holds a steady but disagreeable job as a garbage collector, supports a wife and son, stays sober six days a week, wins his own private civil-rights battle to become a driver, and remains faithful to Rose for eighteen years before he falls” (Wessling 1), Bono probably had a similar negative experience, however he accumulated to the change in a much more uniform way than Troy. One of the main aspects that Troy and Bono share is having a similar past experience that was the main reason to result in the meeting of each other. In the past, Troy was a robber that committed a crime and was punished fifteen years in prison for it. As mentioned in the play “Troy: …Went out one day looking for somebody to rob…that’s what I was, a robber… Went to rob this fellow…pulled out my knife…and he pulled out a gun.

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Shot me in the chest… When he shot me I jumped at him with my knife. They told me I killed him and put me in the penitentiary and locked me up for fifteen years. That’s where I met Bono.”(Wilson 81). Pointing out that Troy met Bono in prison, shows a strong similarity in both of their past behavior which led into meeting each other. Although the reason for Bono’s legal punishment isn’t mentioned, but based on his personality later throughout the play, it is less likely for him to have committed a crime of murdering someone.
Differences are present between Troy and Bono deeper into the play, the differences are major belief-wise and behavior-wise. This main difference is the type of personality each character acquires, the personality of each of the characters is a very essential aspect, because it literally shapes each character as a person. Troy is shown as a high tempered person, however Troy is shown as much more peaceful and calm person throughout the whole play. The analysis of each of the characters can show their work habits, apparently Troy is a very hard worker and tries to excel in his job, however Bono is much more excepting and easy working in his job. Troy and Bono both work as garbage collectors, throughout the play a series of events happen at their workplace to justify their work mentalities. As written in the play “Troy: …He told me to go down to the Commissioner’s office next Friday. They called me down there to see them.
Bono: Well, as long as you got your complaint filed, they can’t fire you…
Troy: I ain’t worried about them firing me. They gonna fire me cause I asked a question? ... I went to Mr. Rand and asked him ‘Why? Why you got the white mens driving and the colored lifting?’….” (Wilson 69). The previous quote proves that Troy is much more consistent, hardworking, and exceling, yet Bon is very accepting to his role in the job. The personality of Troy being tempered and Bono being calm support their work ethics. Later into the play, we find out that Troy gets a promotion and gets to drive the truck. Troy reaching his goal supports the idea that he is much more hardworking than Bono.
Another major difference that is encountered between Troy and Bono is loyalty. Bono confronts Troy about an affair he might be having with someone, as written in the play “Bono: I aint saying that. I see where you be eyeing her.
Troy: I eye all women. I don’t miss nothing. Don’t ever let someone tell you Troy Maxson don’t eye women.
Bono: You been doing more than eyeing her. You done bought her a drink or two.
Troy: Hell yeah, I bought her a drink! What you mean? I bought you one, too. What that mean cause I buy her a drink? I’m just being polite.
Bono: it’s alright to buy her one drink. That’s what you call being polite. But when you wanna buy her two or three… that’s what you call eyeing her…”; as we can interpret that Troy is denying this accusation and insists that is something normal, the conversation continues by Troy reminding Bono about his loyalty after marrying Rose and he tries to end the conversation by saying “Alright then! Case closed.” (Wilson 69). Troy’s intensions seem to be very negative and Bono tries to warn him, it also clear that Troy is trying to justify his actions and close the topic. Later on into the play, Bono opens the conversation of the affair again by praising his wife, Rose, Troy replies “Hell nigger, I know she a good woman I married to her for eighteen years…Why you telling me she a good woman?
Bono: She love you, Troy. Rose loves you.
Troy: …I don’t measure up cause I’m seeing this other gal. I know what you trying to say.
Bono: …I don’t want to see you mess up.
Troy: Yeah, I appreciate that, Bono. If you was messing around on Lucille I’d be telling you the same thing.” (Wilson 83), it is clear the there is a huge loyalty difference between the two friends; it seems like Troy is constantly running after another woman and Bono is trying as much as possible to prevent him from continuing. It also shown later in the play that Bono constantly leaves Troy’s house praising his wife’s cocking, this and trying to prevent Troy from cheating clearly justifies that Bono is a faithful person. After the series of events Troy goes through he passes away, Sheri Metzger states in her article “An essay on Fences” “Troy (and his team): his misunderstandings and painful confrontations with his two sons, his institutionalizing of his brother Gabriel, his broken relationships with Rose and Bono, and the death of Alberta. In the ninth inning, when Troy is dead, his family gathers in the yard to remember Troy's wins and losses” (Metzger 1), however it is most probable that at Bono’s death such complications and negative remembrances will not take place.
August Wilson gave a detailed description of a typical African American family in the twentieth century by writing the play “Fences”. Troy Maxson and Jim Bono were close friends for thirty-odd years, however they have different mentalities. Troy and Bono were as close as any two best friends, their personalities sometimes conflict each other; the similarities and differences between them clearly proved that as close as any two friends can get, they will differ in some believes and behaviors.

Works Cited

Metzger, Sheri. "An essay on Fences." Drama for Students. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Wessling, Joseph H. "Wilson's Fences." Explicator 57.2 (Winter 1999): 123-127. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 222. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Wilson, August. Fences: A Play. New York: New American Library, 1986. Print.

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